Successful businesses need clear goals, and so does data analytics. When conducting site search analysis, business owners may find helpful information about their customers to support decision-making on a product, to enhance your online store, or to improve the customer experience.
However, given the exploratory nature of data analytics, sometimes benefits or insights gathered from your site search data are out of the blue, and even reveal new ideas for your business. Find out how.
Site search analytics overview
What is site search analytics?
Site search analysis is a thorough examination of visitors’ search behavior on your website. Those behaviors include search terms that visitors often use, number of search clicks, and filter clicks on the search page. This analysis can be done through a dedicated site search analytics dashboard with charts and graphs showing your customers’ search behaviors.
Google Search Console is a typical example of search analytics.
If you have no clue about terms relating to site navigation, here’s your savior: All you need to know about Site Search & Navigation.
Why you should analyze your site search data
What people use your search feature for says a thing or two about your navigation, homepage, and search result pages. A study by AGConsult shows that if the number of visitors using your search feature is higher than 5%, that might be a sign there is something wrong with your overall navigation. In other words, site search data can be really useful in helping you indicate potential problems on your site.
More importantly, site search analytics provide insights into what people are looking for on your website. Which terms do they use? Do they use other terms than the ones you’re using? Are there typical spelling errors lots of visitors make? Are they searching for things that aren’t on your website? So on and so forth.
How people usually measure site search analytics
There are two common ways to gather data on your site search performance:
- Use Google Analytics to analyze your website’s visitor behavior.
- Use the built-in analytics tool by your search software to investigate the search pattern.
Now, let’s weigh the pros and cons of these two methods to find out which way is more effective to scrutinize your on-site search.
Millions of people use the free version of Google Analytics, making it the most popular analytics tool out there. The familiar brand name of Google and the product’s apparent dominance in Google search results for “analytics” make it the default choice for those who aren’t sure what to look for when choosing which data analytics software to use.
Getting Google Analytics ready for your site requires an initial set-up and some understanding of what to look for in the data. Internal site search data can show you what your target audience wants to read, what they have trouble finding, and which search phrases have the most conversion intent.
An overview of Google Analytics’ site search reports. Source: AG Consult.
Once configured, your internal site search data will show up in Google Analytics at Behavior > Site Search. When the data is recorded, you can establish if visitors use your site search and if it generates revenue. The usage report in Google Analytics can point out:
- The percentage of your visitors use site search.
- The percentage of your revenue that comes from visitors who use site search.
- The average order value of visitors who search vs. visitors who do not.
- The conversion rate of visitors who search vs. visitors who do not.
An example of Google Analytics’ site search default usage report. Source: Potent.
Also, Google Analytics is a considerable choice when it comes to extracting your site search data. However, Google Analytics runs into trouble when you want to analyze the numbers deeper, especially if you are not a professional data analyst. It can become extremely complicated to do simple customer behavior analysis such as site, or you’ll find that you can’t easily do the kind of analysis you want to do.
One more thing, to online businesses who want to gather data and do analysis of site search performance, there are some major technical limitations that you need to be aware of. Google Analytics, after all, is a third-party tool, so there will be likely errors in the process of configuring or gathering the data. Particularly, there is a certain lag in receiving data, for a standard Google Analytics account exceeding 200,000 sessions per day, both reporting and metrics can be delayed up to 48 hours.
Not to mention browsers' increasing limits on cookie and tracking tools (Chrome is leading the way), or your customers are using interfering extensions, or they go in incognito mode, or they simply use highly-private browsers such as DuckDuckGo.
That’s when built-in analytics tools like Analytics of Boost Product Filter & Search app come in to save the day.
Built-In Analytics Tools
Most site search solutions now have analytics tools included in their platforms. These tools deliver integrated and insight-driven search data right out of the box. Not only convenient in gathering data, but they are also efficient in providing meaningful information curated particularly for optimizing your site search.
Analytics feature by Boost Product Filter & Search gives you the means to review your customers' navigation activities, get insights into your visitor shopping behaviors, and analyze their interactions. What’s more, Analytics offers a complete picture of all your customers’ search activities in one place. This simplifies your site search analytics work. It saves time and makes it easy to look through aggregate search results across networks.
You’ll see key metrics for internal site search behaviors, including:
This is a list of the search terms most entered by your customers. You will know what your customer is most likely to type directly into the search box and look for at your store.
This is a list of the search terms most entered by your customers, but they have no products available to return for the search results. With this metric, you'll be able to recognize what your customers might need but you don't have to provide, hence improve your product data or product inventory.
This number reflects how many times your shoppers use the store search box to look for products. You'll be able to monitor and configure better Search settings to enhance your user shopping experience.
This number reflects the number of clicks on our filter trees of the search result. You will know on which collection do the customers interact with its filter the most, so you know which product collection they're paying attention to and what they're looking for.
This is a list of the top option values selected by your customers (size X, color Black, etc.). This metric goes into detail of what exactly your customer is using to narrow down after searching for something. You'll know what characteristics of products in your store are being looked for the most.
Want to know more about how Boost’s Analytics can help you power up your on-site search? Take a look at Everything You Need to Know about Analytics Feature of Boost.
In short, most e-businesses need to answer important questions about their customers’ journeys through their online stores in order to thrive. This requires understanding customer behavior at an individual and customer segment level. Google Analytics can help you with a part of that, but runs into limitations when you try to grasp it fully when updating and analyzing the data. Finding an analytics tool that can capture the data you need to understand your customers’ search behavior in the shortest time makes a big difference in becoming more data-driven and improving product findability.
Collecting data is important, but knowing how to deal with what you have is far more crucial. In addition to complementing your Google Analytics instance, in-app Analytics also brings substantial benefits that you might never expect. If you still have little clue about what to do with site search data, no worries as we’ve got your back.
Unique uses of site search Analytics that you may never realize
Leverage your content strategy
Customers often turn to site search when they are unable to navigate on your site. By entering a query in the search box, they have a better chance of finding the information or products they want on your website.
For the fact that customers use site search to tell you what they are looking for, it can help you create an effective content strategy.
How can exactly on-site search data contribute?
Good thing you asked. The search refinements performed within a website yield valuable insights that can be used to inform website content, paid key phrases, and even SEO tactics. This data can also help you improve usability and conversions.
A graph showing the customer journey of using site search to find the product they need. Source: Search Engine Land.
Site search data contains wealthy information that you can use to drive your content strategy. It’s just about how you analyze the data and keep an eye out for the opportunities to optimize. Here are some tips you can follow:
- Content Optimization: Site search reports contain highly relevant keywords since they reflect the exact terms your visitors entered into the search box. Use these internal search terms to improve your on-page and metadata optimization for higher rankings through organic search, or better performance in your paid campaigns. Tighter alignment with these search terms will also improve page and website retention since visitors will find more value on the pages.
Report of ‘Top search terms’ that you can use to optimize your content strategy.
- New Content Ideas: Your site search data can also point out possible shortages in your existing content. If your analysis reveals a lot of searches for content you do not have, consider building out these content themes. Doing so will help keep visitors engaged on site, and help capture new visitors and volume through search engine traffic. It also can shine light on some naming conventions. For instance, you might learn that consumers refer to a product in a completely different way than you do.
‘Top search terms with no result’ data gives you the chance to work on your new content ideas to meet your customers’ expectations.
It is essential to have an effective content strategy. Fortunately, site search data can help inform your content strategy along several important metrics: search frequency, visitor intent, keyword/keyphrase relevance. When developing your content strategy, tap into your site search data to shed light on important insights that could translate into a competitive advantage.
Scale your e-business with data that your customers left
- Market/Product Research: Site search data will show you how well your product is performing. For instance, your analysis might reveal hundreds of site searches for ‘macallan scotch’, but you have sold very little of it on your site. This type of trend indicates that you are either selling the wrong type of product or it is too expensive or irrelevant to the market/audience. Your data can also tell you what your consumers are interested in. In fact, it is not uncommon for entirely new product lines to be created based on consumer insights. Say, if thousands of people are searching for ‘jet pilot’ every day, you might want to dig deeper into that product.
Please keep in mind that offering more products can help scale a business. Lucky for you, your own site search data is a golden source of product ideas that you shouldn’t miss.
Use internal site search data to improve the search page itself
- Filtered Search Optimization: you can use the data to cut down on your filters. In particular, if an option of the filters is not used often, you should evaluate why it’s there to begin with. Next, looking at which filters people use and analyzing what facets users are selecting (and the order by which they are doing) are important parts of assisting the user experience and how much content to surface. Sometimes, e-tailers do not pay attention to the amount of excess data they create and they can confuse customers.
‘Top filter option value on search page’ gives you hints in optimizing your faceted search to make your search results more relevant to customers.
For example, filtering by particular brands or prices may be more likely to lead to sales than filtering by others, and therefore you can spot inventory gaps. Or perhaps particular colors are more popular than others.
- Search Shortages Recovery: According to e-business consultant expert Dan Barker, refining through on-site search terms often gives you clues for when navigational options or links are missing. For example, on holiday sites, if everyone’s searching for the word ‘delivery’ from product pages, it may be worth adding delivery info to your product pages.
Keeping track of your data not only helps you clean up your search page and make it more effective in converting sales, but also allows you to discover minor shortfalls that you may never notice.
Be the early bird in the holiday season
Holidays are just around the corner, coming along with multiple seasonal eCommerce events. While the key dates for holidays don’t usually have changes, on-site search data can give e-tailers powerful insights into exactly when customers start planning and purchasing to prepare for these events.
Regarding building your customers’ journey, a little help from your last year’s site search data can let you know exactly when and what you might want to start stocking this year. And when their interest starts to drop, it might be time to consider a sale or promotional campaign.
When people are still not aware of the holiday presence, be an early and wise bird, embark on your data analysis now and come up with attractive plans.
A quick note before you go
Site search is all about helping your customers find the products they need, but the data it generates is on another level. Site search reports and search-related dimensions allow you to better understand your users and make changes to your site to better serve your existing and potential customers.
Another thing, site search analytics should combine with other analysis on collections and filters to maximize its effectiveness.
If you want to find out more about other tools to work with the site search analytics, check it out here. Or if you are a man of action, try out Boost’s robust site search analytics today with a 14-day free trial.